Fact Check

Todd Beamer and Jackie Robinson

Did a young Todd Beamer receive pitching tips from baseball great Jackie Robinson?

Published Oct 25, 2002


Glurge:   Young Todd Beamer receives pitching tips from baseball great Jackie Robinson.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

The following story is true. It was first printed in "Chicken Soup for the Adolescent Soul."

The eight year old Little League pitcher had been shellacked 21-0 in the first game of the season. To make it worse, his Mom was late picking him up, and it had started to drizzle. He sat on a bench at the side of the field, quietly crying.

An old black man with a metal detector came to the field looking for coins. He noticed the boy sitting in the rain crying, but said nothing. After a while, it just became too much, so he went to talk to him.

"Tell you what," he said, "I used to play some ball, why don't you throw me a few?" They started to play some catch, and the old man gave the kid some pointers on his pitching style. More importantly, he told the boy to never give up. A game is just a game, but a can-do attitude is what puts you right back on the mound the next game.

It was a lesson the boy never forgot. He went back on the mound the next game, and they won. In fact, his team went all the way that season. The pitching tips helped, but the words of encouragement were worth so much more.

The old man's name was Jackie Robinson. The boy was Todd Beamer, the "Let's Roll" hero of Flight 93.

One faced racial discrimination and prevailed.

The other faced terrorists and became an inspiration for a nation.

Never give up

Origins:   What's better than a glurgy piece of fiction created to embellish a hero's reputation? How about a fabricated account that brings together two heroes in a work of glurgerrific


This touching and inspiring item intertwines the lives of Jackie Robinson, the man who became an icon for the American civil rights movement after breaking major league baseball's color barrier in 1947, and Todd Beamer, one of the heroes of the Flight 93 crash on September 11 whose last recorded words ("Let's roll") have become a catchphrase for resistance to terrorism. Unfortunately, this item is also false all around: It is not a "true story," nor did it appear in the book Chicken Soup for the Adolescent Soul. (There is no such book: the Chicken Soup folks have published Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul, but as yet no Chicken Soup for the Adolescent Soul.)

How do we know it's not true? After his final season of baseball in 1956, Robinson served as a spokesman and executive for various companies before dying of a heart attack in 1972 at the relatively young age of 53 — he never became an "old man" who spent his final days shuffling around suburban baseball fields looking for coins with a metal detector. Moreover, it's hard to imagine the circumstances under which Todd Beamer and Jackie Robinson could have accidentally crossed paths: Beamer was born in Flint, Michigan, and spent his childhood in Wheaton, Illinois, but Robinson lived nowhere near either of those places in his post-retirement years.

However, the telling blow is that Todd Beamer was born on 24 November 1968. If little Todd was getting "shellacked 21-0 in the first game of the season" as a Little League pitcher when he met Jackie Robinson, it's no wonder: Robinson died in October of 1972, when Todd Beamer was only three years old. It's tough to get batters out when you're too young to throw the ball even halfway to home plate.

Last updated:   24 February 2008

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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